Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources


Decoding the Intersections with literature and discussion in the BSEER Race & Space reading group

7 December 2023

Athina Petsou provides an account of BSEER's diverse reading group for critical race theory and the built environment


A Blog by Athina Petsou

Last year was the second year of our Race and Space reading group. From March to July 2023, we met on the last Friday of each month, engaging in a diverse selection of readings, as an attempt to connect critical race theory and the built environment. Our goal, as an informal group, was to foster a collaborative and supportive environment that challenged our perspectives on race, inequality, and the necessity of "decolonizing" research and the curriculum within our professional practice, whether in research, teaching, or administration. This blog post serves as a testimony of our experience, the lessons we learned, and our ideas for the future.

Our reading circle began with Bartlett's Race and Space curriculum, which provided a strong foundation for our exploration. This collection featured insights from theory shapers theorists such as Bell Hooks, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, and renowned novelists like Zadie Smith. Additionally, we engaged with further literature suggested by participants of the reading group. Monthly, we met for an hour, opting for a hybrid approach to accommodate unique needs and schedules, trying to be as inclusive and participatory as possible.

A little summary of all the readings and activities

Throughout our gatherings, we engaged with four key readings that shaped our discussions. Below we summarise the key discussions we had based on each reading:

  • Reading 1: Sean P. Connors & Roberta Seelinger Trites (2021) “I’d Become a Part of a System”: Examining Intersectional Environmentalism in Literature for Young Readers
  • Reading 2: Frantz Fanon (1961) The Wretched of the Earth (section)
  • Reading 3: Ash Amin (2002) Ethnicity and the Multicultural City: Living with Diversity.
  • Reading 4: Stuart Hall (1988) New Ethnicities

As we approached the end of our reading group in July, we dedicated a session to reflect on the knowledge and insights we had gathered the past terms. In a workshop-style open reflection, we engaged in in-depth conversations that aimed to connect the different readings and examine how we could apply our collective understanding to bring positive change within our respective fields. Furthermore, we explore the continuation of our work and the most effective ways to share our reflections with our academic community.

As we look forward to the future, we remain committed to fostering a space of learning and growth, where the exploration of race and space continues to challenge our perspectives and inspire change in our academic community. Our journey does not end here; it is just the beginning of a broader conversation that we hope will resonate beyond our reading group, sparking dialogue and action in the pursuit of equality and inclusivity in our respective fields.

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